Turkey denies closing Habur border gate, says security checks increased

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Turkish soldiers take part in the Turkish Armed Forces' military drill that began in the Silopi district near the Habur border gate on September 18, in Sirnak, Turkey on September 23, 2017, on the sixth day of the ongoing drill. Fatih Aktas / Anadolu Agency

Denying allegations of closing the Habur border gate to northern Iraq, Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade Bülent Tüfekçi said on Monday that only security checks have been increased.

Previous reports claimed that Turkeyhad closed the border gate with Iraq’s Kurdistan region and prohibited entry into Turkey while allowing exits.

Tüfekçi stated that the Habur border gate was not closed but that strict controls were imposed.

Increased security checks came in response to an independence referendum held by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Sunday declared the vote for independence to be held on Sept. 25 by KRG “null and void.”

“Turkey will not welcome any changes of status or new entities on the southern border. The referendum that will be held tomorrow in northern Iraq is illegitimate, null and void,” said Yıldırım during a party meeting in Ankara.

“The northern Iraq regional government, which took the decision on its own, without asking its people and insisted on it despite opposition from all nations as well as the UN, will be primarily responsible for all possible developments,” added the prime minister.

Yıldırım underlined that people living in the region will possibly pay a post-referendum cost.
“Whatever the result of the referendum is, we will call on Kurds, Arabs and Turcomans to account for it, but we will say that those who insisted on it are at fault,” said Yıldırım.

The Turkish Parliament held an extraordinary session on Saturday and approved a motion to extend for another year a mandate to conduct cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq as tensions increase in the region ahead of the referendum.

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